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Online Community Best Practices

Posted by on March 18, 2008

Jeremiah Owyang recently put up his findings for online community best practices. The presentation can be viewed below. Jeremiah outlines a 4-step approach to the “groundswell,” which is defined as the new trend of getting information through technology (such as twitter, blogs, etc) as opposed to getting information via traditional sources.

The 4-steps(POST) are broken down into

  • People- Assess customers’ social technographics profile
  • Objectives- Decide what you want to accomplish
  • Strategy- Plan for how relationships with customers will change
  • Technology- Decide which social technologies to use

My biggest issue with this process is that it eliminates a crucial factor, the “why.” Why do you want to create and online community? Why do you want to create a blog? I asked Jeremiah about this and he responded with,

“We believe there’s a power shift, so companies need to first ‘listen’ and learn about the participants “P” before aligning a marketing objective.

The power is in the hands of the users, so start with them first.”

There are several problems with this response.

First, if I am a company trying to create a blog what do I do? I have to start posting something right? However, without feedback and without listening to my users, what do I write?

Second, learning about participants is great, but that should not dictate the “why.” I agree that power is being shifted to the hands of the users and companies need to listen and learn about them, but that should help dictated the “how” not the “why.”

In order to be successful online (whether it’s creating a blog or a social media platform) you must first answer, “why?”

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  • T-shirt Mom

    Jacob, do you think that the “why” question can be answered at the “Objectives- Decide what you want to accomplish” stage?

  • Jacob Morgan

    Hi T-shirt mom,

    The question can be answered in that stage. However, that stage would then have to come before the “People” stage.

    Deciding what you want to accomplish is quite different then why you want to accomplish it. If my goal is to increase traffic to a particular blog by 50% and get get 300 people to click on an adsesne ad, well that’s great. But why? Am I doing this to increase brand awareness? Do I just want to make a quick buck on the side?

    The why and the how can easily be clumped together. My argument is that they should be 2 entirely separate entities because a different thought process is needed for each.

    Thanks for reading, hope to see more of your comments in the future!

  • T-shirt Mom


    According to Friedrich Nietzsche, you are correct about the how and why.

    “It is impossible to endure the how, until one first understands the why” – FN

  • Jacob Morgan

    hi t-shirt mom,

    a fellow nietzsche reader hm? thanks for the comment and thank you for reading, hope to hear more from you.